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Parliament passes anti-terror legislation

June 9th, 2016

While left-liberal Népszabadság no longer regards the constitutional amendments as a threat, Népszava thinks they are the beginning of the end of the republic.

In its front-end editorial, Népszabadság emphasizes that the constitutional amendments passed on Tuesday differ in several ways from the ones the government came up with after the terror attacks in Brussels.

A set of anti-terror amendments to existing laws and the Fundamental Law were introduced on the floor in April. After compromises on several issues (see BudaPost April 16th, 2016) with the opposition, the package was passed in Parliament on Tuesday. One set of bills aims to establish a super agency that would co-ordinate the work of Hungarian intelligence agencies on antiterrorism, while the constitutional amendments introduce the notion of a new kind of emergency – the ‘emergency state of terror’. Though part of the legislation was supported by Socialist MPs, the constitutional amendments were only backed by Jobbik, which was indispensable to ensure the necessary two-thirds majority.

The paper notes that the first version of the proposals did contain starting  details: it would have let the government declare an ‘emergency state of terror’ on its own and, among others things, put the media under its control. It was not sound reasons that caused these ideas to be ditched, Népszabadság warns, but the very fact Fidesz does not have a two-thirds majority in the legislature any longer, so it had to compromise. The left-liberal paper calls the result ‘satisfactory’, and welcomes the fact that the Parliament continues to decide (with a two-thirds majority) if there is a genuine terror emergency or not. But then, the author is baffled, why did the constitution need to be ‘re-written’ in the first place? Népszabadság also suggests, that it would have been more useful to improve the working conditions of those who respond first in case of a disaster.

In Népszava on the other hand, Róbert Friss sees the anti-terror bill and the amendments in a more gruesome light and feels the changes have not affected the essence of the original government proposals. In his analysis, the author claims the legislation has effectively created the legal possibility to abolish the third republic. Népszava’s author therefore thinks it is high time for the ‘democratic opposition’ to leave behind what he calls the ‘ruins of parliamentarism’, namely, to boycott the National Assembly.

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